NABCEP Entry Level Exam *Not NABCEP Certified PV Installers.

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aikawa

Member
Hello

New to the forum and new to Solar energy. I just graduated from University in Tokyo and planning on getting into the marketing sector in the solar industry. However as I have no prior knowledge of solar/PV systems, I decided to take the NABCEP entry level exam at MTEC in Michigan to get more knowledge in PV.
Just having the terminology would help me grow in the industry.

Anyway i wanted to ask for those who have taken the test on how difficult it is?
The 1 week intensive class starts in mid March, and I have already purchased James Dunlop's Photovoltaic systems textbook. Started this week as I was a little jet lagged from the flight from Tokyo. Ive gotten through a few chapters and it seems like I should review alot of the terminology.

What are your guy's say in this? I also would like to mention I graduated with a Liberal Arts Major (Sociology/Anthropology) so have little background in physics etc.

Any tips for studying for the exam? Will there be many mathematical/physics questions? OR is it more focus?ed on the vocabulary/terminology?

Thanks for the help!

Thanks
 

sutonimh

Member
Passed the test last year personally. Most of the test is related to electrical calculations (amperage/voltage calcs), code application (wire sizing, etc), and design questions (shade analysis, sun exposure, etc). I've been in the industry for about 10 years and always been the type to bust out the code book regularly. Still found the test pretty challenging.

I know others have mixed feelings about the standard, but I think it's a generally good test. IMO it most certainly separates the knowledgeable industry professionals from the fly by night folks.

Watch out for that question 17 :cool:
 

aikawa

Member
Thanks for the tips. Are you talking about the PV entry level exam? If so I gotta really catch up on my math.
 

ike5547

Senior Member
Location
Chico, CA
Thanks for the tips. Are you talking about the PV entry level exam? If so I gotta really catch up on my math.

I'm guessing it's not the math that is difficult. It's knowing when/how/where to apply relatively simple mathematics to a given set of circumstances.
 

aikawa

Member
Well the NABCEP site says that they issue a booklet with the formulas. How much of the formulas are listed in this booklet?
 

Dave58er

Senior Member
Location
Dearborn, MI
The class will provide you with all of the formulas you need. How long do you have after the class before you take the test?
You're gonna want at least a week to study the material.

The class I took had 30 days to prepare for the exam. That seemed about perfect, enough time to study but you werent forgeting what you learned.
 

iwire

Moderator
Staff member
Location
Massachusetts
The class will provide you with all of the formulas you need. How long do you have after the class before you take the test?
You're gonna want at least a week to study the material.

The class I took had 30 days to prepare for the exam. That seemed about perfect, enough time to study but you werent forgeting what you learned.
I took my test the night after class ended, aced it no problem.
 

aikawa

Member
The class will provide you with all of the formulas you need. How long do you have after the class before you take the test?
You're gonna want at least a week to study the material.

The class I took had 30 days to prepare for the exam. That seemed about perfect, enough time to study but you werent forgeting what you learned.
I am taking the test the next day. However I have already purchased and started self-study with James Dunlops textbook. Im just a little weary about the math problems.
Would you guys say there are more concrete questions on terminology or more associated with solving mathematical problems.

Any tips/suggestions? I heard that the exam covers mostly chapters (dunlops) 1-11. I think I am good with the fundamentals of the actual PV system/its layout etc but having a hard time digesting the material for wiring/charge controllers/ and the like
 
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Dave58er

Senior Member
Location
Dearborn, MI
....., aced it no problem.
I would be surprised to here otherwise Bob. ;)

I've got to admit I didn't once do any studying myself before the test. :)
Got so busy I considered not sitting for the exam ($60 per for me, and I didn't want to pay twice).
Glad I did though, it didn't seem as hard as some made it out to be.
I wasn't able to ace it but only needed 350 to pass and ended up with 466/500. :)
 

aikawa

Member
I would be surprised to here otherwise Bob. ;)

I've got to admit I didn't once do any studying myself before the test. :)
Got so busy I considered not sitting for the exam ($60 per for me, and I didn't want to pay twice).
Glad I did though, it didn't seem as hard as some made it out to be.
I wasn't able to ace it but only needed 350 to pass and ended up with 466/500. :)
Did you have prior knowledge of electrical wiring etc?
Im fresh out of college and never had any studies in physics/electrical components etc. (sociology major)
The learning objective for this years NABCEP exam emphasizes suggested percentage time allotment towards the system components (15%) and PV system electrical design (15%) where the others are either 10% or 5%.

Simply put were the questions like this? (taken from green credential)
What is the maximum number of series connected Kyocera KC200GT (Vmp= 26.3) modules that would be in the operating range of the SMA 2500 U inverter? Assume STC conditions.

a. 18
b. 19
c. 22
d. 23

or
Your customer?s solar array has 12 Kyocera KC85T modules arranged in 2 series of 6 modules per each string. Which of the following do you expect to see as the output parameters under STC conditions?

Vmp=17.4
Imp=5.02 Amps
a. 43.4 volts @ 32.04 amps
b. 104 volts @ 10.04 amps
c. 130.2 volts @ 10.68
d. 34.8 volts @ 30.12 amps

These questions dont seem familar in what I have been reading in Dunlop's textbook. Any thoughts?
 

ty

Senior Member
Any thoughts?
Yes, plenty. I will not get into those related to NABCEP.

But for your 1st question, there is not enough info to give the actual answer.
I would go with 'b' for numerous reasons, but I doubt that any of the answers are truely correct.
I would guess in actuality you wouldn't be able to get that many of those particular modules in series on that inverter(if you could even get that inverter anymore).

Your second question is basically easier. you have to know how to calculate series and parallel circuits and use the data provided.
Here again, i would go with 'b'.

Check me, Bob.
 

aikawa

Member
Thanks for the reply.

Here are some more. My point that I want to make is if questions on the actual exam will be similar to the ones I posted?
Ive read the entire book, just reviewing now and trying to cover the learning objectives from NABCEP.
Im going to have some problems with the calculation part of the exam.....


Q5: The highest average winter insolation will fall on a solar module with a tilt angle equal to :

a. The location?s latitude minus 15 degrees
b. The location?s latitude
c. The location?s latitude plus 15 degrees
Q6: You examine and test the system with a multi-meter. You find that there is no voltage on the AC side of the inverter. What do you think happened?

a. The PV array was covered with dirt.
b. The PV array was struck by lighting
c. The customer turned on his computer too much during the month
d. The AC breaker in the electric distribution panel is tripped.

Q6: You examine the metering data and find that the system only produced 50% of what it should have produced in July. What do you think happened?

a. One of the fuses was blown
b. It was slightly hotter than normal in July
c. The owner turned on more lights than normal

Q7. If the open circuit voltage (Voc) of a crystalline silicon PV array is 315V at 25? C, then, according to the NEC (National Electric Code) chart, if the array is operated at -20? F, maximum system voltage must be corrected to

a. 269 V
b. 315 V
c. 369 V
d. 394 V

Q8: In order to determine the expected maximum PV array voltage, the module voltage at Standard Test Conditions must be corrected for

a. The highest expected solar insolation at the installed location
b. The lowest expected solar insolation at the installed location
c. The highest anticipated air temperature
d. The lowest anticipated air temperature
 

sw_ross

Senior Member
Location
NoDak
Q5 - a
Q6 - d
Q6 - b
Q7 - ? I get 381v
Q8 - d

These are just my guesses given the info provided in the Q's. With more info I might choose a different answer for Q6 (the second Q6).

sky
 

aikawa

Member
Thanks for all your input.

Ive been working on the learning objectives given by NABCEP

and having a hard time finding this question

For a specified PV module and inverter in a simple utility-interactive system,
determine the maximum and minimum number of modules that may be used in
source circuits and the total number of source circuits that may be used with a
specified inverter, depending upon the expected range of operating
temperatures, the inverter voltage windows for array maximum power point
tracking and operation, using both simple calculations and inverter
manufacturers? online string sizing software tools.

which formula do I use for this?
 

ty

Senior Member
What do YOU think the answers are?

Not to sound rude, but post the answers you come up with and how you come up with them, and maybe we can try to figure out where you are going wrong.

It typically doesn't go in the way of you posting a bunch of questions and we just answer them for you around here.
This is basically like us doing your homework.
I don't mind helping, but you gotta show what you know. Some of these questions are very basic.
 

aikawa

Member
I totally understand, but my questions are not to get the answers.

If you look at my posts, my base question was to get an idea of what kind of questions will be asked. I am trying to find an angle of how I can approach the questions on the exam given the fact that most of you who have posted here, have already taken and passed the test.

Like I said, I have no prior knowledge of electrical components, wiring, the PV system itself, and would like SUGGESTIONS from those experienced.

I feel that reading and working on the learning objectives is not enough for me, thus I ask for assistance.

Sorry for the misunderstanding.
 

aikawa

Member
Well Im not getting into the technical side of it. I am trying to obtain the certificate so I can be a more successful marketer of PV systems. Not everyone is taking the exam to further their steps into becoming an installer.....
 
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Is it easy or difficult pass the nabcep entry exam. I got a test date on tues March 16 and I've been studying. I've taken the C-10 Electrical license, the California Certification for the journey level and then taken the general. Ive taken all courses for the apprentice level. Do you think it would be easy to pass with a background experience. Also are there a lot of formulas to work on?
 
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